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Charles “Charlie” Field, the retired Riverside County Superior Judge, former labor lawyer, dedicated University of California, Riverside, advocate and warm friend to many, died Oct. 29, at the age of 85.

The Riverside County Bar Association announced his passing.

“He was a person who was warm and welcome to everyone,” his wife, Virginia, said. “People always liked him, because he liked them.”

Judgeship

Gov. George Deukmejian appointed Field as Juvenile Court Judge in January 1990, after Field professed to hankering for a judgeship. After a year and a half, he moved to the court’s civil division, where he worked until his retirement in 2004.

Before his judgeship, Field worked as a labor lawyer at Best, Best & Krieger’s Riverside office starting in 1963, right after his graduation from the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law. He worked his way to managing partner before his judgeship.

In an oral history for his undergraduate college, the UCR, Field said he began working the same week Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President John F. Kennedy.

Community reaction

“The Riverside legal community mourns the loss of Judge Field,” said Neil Okazaki, RCBA president, by email to RCBA members. “His career as an accomplished attorney, admired judge, dedicated nonprofit board member, and trusted elected official is inspiring to all who knew him. We are thankful for his legacy and offer our deepest condolences to his wonderful family.”

Community involvement

Field was highly active in his community. He served on the UCR Alumni Association, including as president in its founding year. after graduating in 1958 in the pioneer class, and worked at Best, Best & Krieger starting in 1963 for 27 years before being appointed to the Superior Court in 1990. 

He pioneered the firm’s labor law division, and led their general school law practice while working primarily for public agencies and school districts. He was warm, he was affable, and he was a good communicator, making him ideal for carrying out labor negotiations, retired Best, Best & Krieger partner John Brown remembered.

Remembering Field as very smart, but very understated, Best, Best & Krieger managing partner Eric Garner worked with him for five years before he went on to the judgeship.

Field’s presence

“He didn’t make a deal about how smart he was, but if you ever worked with him, you figured it out quick,” Garner remembered. “He was the funniest person in every room.”

Garner credited Field with maintaining a healthy workplace at the firm, stating that now, anyone who mismanages staff is not going to last long.

Field chose to be a lawyer because of lawyers’ good understanding of social and political issues, which made them more interesting than doctors, he said in the oral history.

Life story

Born at Lane Hospital in San Francisco Aug. 2, 1936, to a Stanford Medical School professor and one of the few women Stanford graduates at the time, Field attended University High School in Los Angeles.

In his time at UCR, he was part of the freshman basketball team that came up with and advocated for the Highlander as the campus mascot in 1954. Field also poured the concrete to make the university’s “Big C” on Box Springs Mountain.

Field served on the University of California Regents Board in 1975, alongside Catherine Hearst when she got the call about during Patty Hearst’s arrest. UCR Chancellor Ivan Hinderaker tapped Field to be the first Chairman of the UCR Foundation Board of Trustees, in 1977.

Legacy

“He was certainly admired, respected and loved for his achievements” over the 44 years he served at UCR, Jorge Ancona, assistant vice chancellor for alumni engagement said.

Ancona remembered Field as witty, endearing and sharp-minded, the kind of person that people gravitate to at events. He loved being in the college’s first graduating class, in 1958, and enjoyed helping forge the path at UCR for what’s next, Ancona said.

His wife, Virginia, remembered that Charlie would write rather lengthy comments in correspondence, and that once he had a thought going, he would continue to pursue it. 

Charlie wouldn’t brag about his accomplishments, but was proud to be a judge, Virginia said. He enjoyed traveling, and fishing, and once owned a motorhome he would take on trips to Canada.

Roles

Field also was the director of the Western Municipal Water District of Riverside County, and was involved with the Citizens University Committee, The Press-Enterprise board, the Riverside Arts Council, the Riverside Arts Foundation, the Riverside County Law Library, the State Bar of California, and the Public Service Law Corp. of Riverside County Bar Association.

Friends of Field remember him as a legendary master of ceremonies.

In addition to Virginia, Field is survived by his sons Robert and John; his stepchildren Vicki Broach, Cristi Hendry and Stephen Broach; their spouses; 15 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. Virginia suggested memorial contributions be sent to UCR’s Western Municipal Water District Charles D. Field Endowed Scholarship Fund, or to a charity of the donor’s choice.

Photo credit: Michael Elderman

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